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government posts. >> the brother is in charge of security, the cousins of the banking system, in-laws in security as well, and military. so the reality is, this is a family business. >> narrator: like saddam hussein in iraq, assad's ba'ath party repressed any ethnic or religious challenges. >> the ba'ath party promised to get rid of sectarianism. he demanded, and for the most part the syrian population was receptive to, this faustian bargain that the syrian people would accept less freedom and liberty return for stability. >> narrator: he took in millions in soviet military aid and formed an alliance with iran, which still endures. >> the relationship with iran is very unusual. syria is a secular state ruled by a secular arab nationalist party, the ba'ath party. iran is an islamic republic. so they don't seem to be a marriage made in heaven. but it's a symbiotic relationship that's based on strategic necessity. >> it's not a particularly natural alliance, if you will. but for reasons of common enmity towards iraq, towards israel and other regions, they did form this alliance that has
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